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My 3 I's for a Social Media Campaign

While I was in my Masters program down in Australia one of my big semester-long projects was to come up with a full communications plan for a fictitious company. Of course, I decided to make my plan focus around the use of social media.

I came up with a plan I called "The Three I's". I liked it, and I did fairly well on the project. I added the comm. plan to my portfolio to show perspective employers, and those who saw it seemed to like the idea. One even asked if I had come up with it "all by myself"? Although, it didn't get me that job.

Anyways, that got me thinking. My Three I's plan worked for that specific project, but in reality I now believe that it can, and should, be applied to all social media campaigns. Let me explain...

The three I's of my plan stand for: Inform, Interact and Integrate.

These three simple things should be the goal of every social media campaign. Here's why:

First, social media is a way to stay in constant contact with your publics. The first thing you'll want to do through your points of contact is to Inform your public. You want to inform them of your company/product, things you're doing, things you're working on, etc. Pretty much anything that you feel your publics should know you can pass along through social media. Always be informing your public. The more info they have, the more they get to know you/your company/your product.

The second "I" stands for Interact. Any half-decent so-called social media expert (myself included) should tell you that social media is not a soap box to yell from, but rather a place to converse and interact with your publics. Once you've disseminated some information you've (usually) created something where a conversation can start. People can talk about liking or not liking your information, or it could go deeper into conversations about how the info came to be, or suggestions on how to improve on said information. The key is to have this conversation go on between your public and your own brand.

Interact doesn't only have to be about the information from the first "I" either. Conversations about any and all facets of companies/products are taking place across social media all the time whether you're involved or not. It would be much better if you were involved. This could be from jumping in on others' conversations, to responding to blog posts written about your company/product, or simply just answering messages sent to you by your public.

The key here is to make sure you're interacting with your public, not just (figuratively) shouting things at them.

The last "I" is the most important one. It also incorporates the first two I's. This one is Integrate, and refers to bringing all parties together into one single community. It's not just enough to try and get stick your head in when people are talking about your company/product. People not only want to know that you are listening, but they want to know that you care and respect them. They want to feel like a part of your community. They want to feel welcomed by you. The more welcome they feel the more they will interact with you and the more they will like/respect you.

In my project I referred to creating this warm and welcoming enviroment by creating what is known as a "virtual third space". There are three key factors to creating this virtual third space, and here is how I laid them out in my project (the italics are what I'm adding in to generalize for every social media campaign, since my original project only focused on one specific campaign):

1) “Virtual third places should situate the interaction in clearly defined locations and/or cultural contexts.” (Soukup, 433)

  • This will be where you will interact with your community. This could be one specific location, such as your website, or across multiple social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube,, etc), or any combination of online spaces.

2) “A virtual third place must create an environment that attracts diverse community members to join in and participate with the discourse.” (Soukup, 434)

  • This refers to both where you are putting yourself as well as what information you are putting in those places. You may have different segments of the population you want to bring into your community and they probably interact in different locations and in different ways. For instance, your younger targets may be on Facebook and interact there through quick messages and the "like" button, while your older target publics may prefer Twitter and they like to have full conversations with you through it. The point is to know the diversity of your public and know how to make them feel warm and welcome as part of your community.
3) “Presence, the third condition, is the means of constructing this warm and welcoming home away from home for the participating members.” (Soukup, 435)
  • This third points touches on the first two along with my first two I's. If you're putting out the proper information to the proper people in the proper places, and then trying to create that interaction with those same people in those same places, your community should be feeling like part of a real community. And that's the whole point of actually being on social media. Creating this warm and welcoming community.

My actual school project went into a bit more detail, but I think (and hope) you get the point of what I was trying to say.

In my personal opinion, if you can accomplish these three I's in your social media campaign then you have a great success on your hands. Of course there are other factors to look at like hard numbers for your ROI purposes and what not, but achieving these three I's should be a goal for all social media campaigns as well.

So next time you're putting together a social media campaign try to remember to Inform, Interact and Integrate.

I'd love to know what you think of my "Three I's" idea, so please leave some comments and let me know.

Soukup, Charles. (2006). Computer-Mediated Communication as a Virtual Third Place: Building Oldenburg’s Great Good Places on the World Wide Web. New Media and Society. Vol8(3):421–440

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